I never knew that after the brain, the nervous system's next biggest network of closely-interconnected neurones is located in the stomach area. That whilst the actual signals come from the brain, the nerve cells in the gut really do play a part in our emotion and intuition.
I looked this up this morning as I reflected with relief on a health situation I had been dealing with earlier this year, the wider context of which with hindsight, I thought could easily relate to business decision making, self-doubt, misplaced trust and the life of a business founder.
For over six years I had a problem that listed amongst the symptoms dizziness, nausea, tight and tender neck, fogginess of the mind, difficulty concentrating, a feeling of a tight head - and some other stuff. For almost the whole of that time, there was some continued investigation and search for an answer by multiple experts of different seniorities, whom I trusted within the medical profession.
Over time I saw neuro specialists, ear nose and mouth consultants and specialists. I had tests, more tests, MRI's, x-rays and other scans. For almost the whole of the six-year period, I was given costly medication which thankfully, managed the symptoms but like most medicines, these had their own side effects.
Eventually, I was told it was a generic condition, related to migraines but not a migraine. But there was also a general haziness and uncertainty about a specific diagnosis by everyone involved. The approach was, if the drugs are working, then that's good and why keep digging into this. I had to change drugs after a couple of years as the first lot could lead to addiction. I was not satisfied. On a personal level, I would prefer to avoid taking any drugs and, if it were possible to find out what I could do, if anything, to manage naturally or eliminate the problem. My gut was literally telling me, there was more to this.
I kept digging and soon came across a consultant specialist who appeared to be dealing with conditions similar to mine. He was occasionally based in London, accessible to me so, I booked an appointment, paid my money and popped over on the appointed day.
I had been in the room with the doctor no more than five minutes and he told me quite confidently exactly what it was, what causes it and how to fix it. It was apparently, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). One of the most common causes of vertigo and the simple treatment was the Epley manoeuvre!
Within fifteen minutes, he had treated me with simple non-invasive movement and manipulation of the head process and within another ten minutes, I left his room, never again affected by the condition and completely non-dependant on the pharmaceuticals. Apparently, there was a 50/50 chance that this treatment could have failed (or worked if the glass is half full) this time. If it failed, there was a 50/50 chance it would work if tried again.
I always knew there was more to this. My gut instinct told me that firstly, there had to be a better explanation for this condition, and secondly, there had to be an alternative and better way to deal with it.
I do not in any way want to criticise or undermine the individuals or the medical service. As with any experts, they could only relate to what they knew and their own experiences and the 'majority' perspective. Time and resources were tight and they could not, of course, see what I could see or feel what I felt from my own unique perspective. They did not know what a different expert did know and that is the way of it! I simply had a feeling!
I still trust the experts and would not hesitate to trust in their broader judgement and expertise in the future. However, in this instance, I trusted my gut instinct and it paid off. I asked more questions, did not settle for a simple and convenient outcome and I took on the responsibility myself to be informed and to find out more. It could have been a different ending but it isn't in this case.
As an entrepreneur, a business founder or leader, we know that when experts give an opinion - it is an opinion. If they suggest there is no other option, we're generally conscious that it is from their perspective and based on what they believe is viable or not. We can choose to challenge, accept or ignore their advice but we must respect their 'good faith' contribution and whatever we decide, the responsible thing ideally is to check, assess the available facts, then make a decision.
Our gut instinct and our intuition are powerful tools - they are real. The probability is that it's unlikely to be 100% right all of the time, but it's worth getting into the habit of listening for the signs.